Secretary Wayne Williams: “looking for better elections in Colorado”

The Teller County clerk got a visit Monday from Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Matt Masterson, a federal elections commissioner checking out Colorado counties testing new voting equipment. From left to right are: elections deputy Janice Hellman, Masterson, Williams, Clerk Krystal Brown and chief deputy clerk Stephanie Wise.
The Teller County clerk got a visit Monday from Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Matt Masterson, a federal elections commissioner checking out Colorado counties testing new voting equipment. From left to right are: elections deputy Janice Hellman, Masterson, Williams, Clerk Krystal Brown and chief deputy clerk Stephanie Wise.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited Teller County today talking to Clerk and Recorder Krystal Brown, who is one of eight county clerks participating in a pilot program testing voting machines.

The state is looking toward going to as few as one voting system, instead of the patchwork system currently in operation throughout the state. The four companies involved in the pilot program are Dominion, Hart InterCivic, ES&S and Clear Ballot.

Williams last week visited other pilot counties as well as new clerks and recorders who took office in January in preparation for Election Day on Tuesday.

Reading glasses for Teller County voters.
Reading glasses for Teller County voters.

Stephanie Wise, the chief deputy clerk for Teller County, said elections are stressful, but the visit from Williams and Matt Masterson, a commissioner with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission was anything but.

“It was a nice visit,” she said.

She said Teller has two voter centers, one in Woodland Park and one in Cripple Creek, and the judges are “bored to tears.” That’s because, she said, most Coloradans mail in their ballots. All ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Williams said Teller offered a nice touch for voters: a pair of reading glasses for those that have hit that age.

Here are reports from Adams, Douglas, Morgan and Weld counties about the secretary’s visits:

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Christi Coburn, elections administrator for Adams County, and Adams County Clerk Stan Martin.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Christi Coburn, elections administrator for Adams County, and Adams County Clerk Stan Martin.

ADAMS COUNTY

Adams County Clerk Stan Martin said Williams toured the county’s election facility to get an idea of “a day in the life of a mail ballot.”  Williams also thanked Adams for being one of eight counties participating in the pilot program to test systems from four different companies.

“He said, ‘We’re looking for better elections in Colorado,”’ Martin reported.

Adams  and Gilpin counties are testing the Clear Ballot  ballot system.  Martin and Gilpin Clerk Colleen Stewart are big fans.

“The more I learn about the other systems, the more I like Clear Ballot,” Martin said. “I’m looking for three things: accuracy, effectiveness and transparency.”

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Secretary of State Wayne Williams hits the road again, now checking out voting machines

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Gilpin County Clerk Colleen Stewart, left, and chief deputy clerk Gail Maxwell, right. It was snowing in Central City when Williams arrived. The hand-stitched flag, which hangs in the commissioners’ room, has 38 stars and commemorates Colorado’s entry into the union as the 38th state, on July 4, 1876.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Gilpin County Clerk Colleen Stewart, left, and chief deputy clerk Gail Maxwell, right. It was snowing in Central City when Williams arrived. The large hand-stitched flag they are standing in front of has 38 stars and commemorates Colorado’s entry into the union as the 38th state, on July 4, 1876. It hangs in the commissioners room.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams got a taste of the high country’s first significant snowfall when he traveled to Garfield and Gilpin counties this week to check out new voting machines its clerks are testing as part of a pilot program.

Williams plans to certify a new voting machine system for next year, “putting the state on track to move away from a patchwork of voting machines to a single system,” as the Associated Press’ Kristen Wyatt put it.

Eight counties are participating in the pilot program to test machines from four different companies. After the Nov.  3 election, the systems will be evaluated.

Gilpin County Clerk Colleen Stewart said she loves the machines from Clear Ballot that her county is testing. Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico was equally enthusiastic about the latest machines from Hart InterCivic that her voters are using.

And both clerks were impressed that Williams visited on Tuesday to see what was happening with the testing.

“I really appreciate it that he is a hands-on secretary,” Stewart said. “Being an ex-county clerk, he knows what we’re going through. He really understands elections.”

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Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits Kiowa, Cheyenne and Kit Carson counties

Eads voter Betty Frazee, center, was surprised to see Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday she dropped off her ballot to Kiowa County Clerk Delisa Weeks. (SOS)
Eads voter Betty Frazee, center, was surprised to see Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday when she dropped off her ballot to Kiowa County Clerk Delisa Weeks. (SOS)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams let out a huge laugh when he heard the story about the Kiowa County voter who needed a replacement ballot: It turns out the voter burned up his first ballot because it was the only paper he could find when lighting his grill.

Williams hit the Eastern Plains Tuesday to visit with three new county clerks who took office in January: Delisa Weeks in Kiowa, Pat Daugherty in Cheyenne and Susan Corliss in Kit Carson. He checked to see how they are doing in preparation for the Nov. 3 election and what kind of assistance the secretary of state’s office can provide them.

“You made it to the end of the world, huh?” Kiowa Chief Deputy Patricia Roper said, when she saw Williams at the office in Eads.

Weeks — who used to be a dispatcher with the sheriff’s office — Roper and Roland Sorensen are the only employees in the clerk’s office. Kiowa, with less than 975 active voters, still counts ballots by hand. (So does Jackson  and San Juan counties.)

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Denver pioneers election techniques

How cool to rack up so many awards for election innovation. Clerk and recorder Debra Johnson and elections director Amber McReynolds at one of Denver's 24 round-the-clock ballot boxes. (Photo by Alton Dillard)
How cool to rack up so many awards for election innovations. Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds at one of Denver’s two dozen 24-hour ballot boxes. (Photo by Alton Dillard)

When it comes to voting, Denver is a pioneer, whether it’s convenient round-the-clock ballot boxes or ballot tracking.

The Denver Election Division  currently provides 24 round-the-clock ballot boxes where voters can drop off their ballots.  The boxes are in use now as voters drop off ballots for the Nov. 3 coordinated election. Other county clerks have followed suit. 

“We are a state-of-the-art election office that is one of the best in the country,” Denver elections director Amber McReynolds said. “We have spent significant time supporting counties across Colorado and the nation to export our ideas, innovations and service.  It is all worth it if we can improve the voting process for voters everywhere.  That is why it matters to us.”

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Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits Jeffco, Summit clerks

Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin, elections director Carrie Kellogg and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the clerk's office on Friday.
Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin, elections director Carrie Kellogg and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the clerk’s office on Friday.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Friday thanked Jefferson County residents going through training to be an election judge, saying the counties couldn’t conduct elections without their help.

Williams met the judges-in-training when he visited with Jefferson County Clerk Faye Griffin. He later visited Summit County Clerk Kathy Neal in Breckenridge.

“It was good to have him here,” Griffin said. “It’s good to let the counties know that the secretary of state is interested in helping them. ”

In addition to talking to the elections judges, she said  Williams met the staff and checked out Jeffco’s election facility. All Colorado counties are holding an election on Nov. 3.

Griffin took office in January but she’s hardly new to the job. She earlier served eight years as county clerk beginning in 1999.

Both Griffin and Neal said they discussed with Williams his experience with elections. He served as the El Paso County clerk and recorder before being elected secretary of state in 2014.

Summit County Clerk Kathy Neal and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in Breckenridge on Friday.
Summit County Clerk Kathy Neal and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in Breckenridge on Friday.

“That seems logical, to have someone who knows how elections works, ” Neal said.

She also praised the secretary of state’s elections division, a compliment Williams hears as he travels the state.

The secretary and the clerks also discussed the upcoming election on Nov. 3.

Only one statewide measure is on the ballot, Proposition BB, which The Denver Post says offers voters “a choice” on how to handle  $66.1 million in marijuana taxes collected in the first year of legal pot. Should lawmakers have permission to spend the money on school construction and other programs? Or should the state refund the money, giving most of it back to recreational pot growers and users?

Most counties also have on their ballots local school board races and issues from special districts or municipalities. Mineral is the only county that has just the statewide issue on the ballot.